2006 in a Nutshell:
While the 2006 season at the Rose Bowl can not be described as a failure, the dream which all at the club share, winning the County Championship, was not realised. However, a top three finish and an immediate return to the top division of domestic one day cricket were achievements which the club’s faifthful could be rightly proud of. There was though disappointment in the Twenty20 Cup for the second year running, with Hampshire seemingly failing to take the competition seriously, omitting key players from the side. Meanwhile, partly due to the questionable restructuring of the C&G Trophy and murky skies, Hampshire failed to defend their 2005 C&G title. The main failing at Hampshire in 2006 was the batting, as in 2005 and the club have again sort to improve the batting line-up for 2007. Without Chris Tremlett, who has been hampered by injury for the past two seasons, the bowling also lacked fire power, but the addition of Stuart Clark will undoubtedly have county batsman throughout the land quaking in their boots.
An area which has drastically improved over the past few seasons, Hampshire now have one of the finest batting line ups in England. The addition of Michael Lumb (who averaged 41.9 last season in the LVCC1) from Yorkshire has improved the middle order no end and he will come in for the outgoing Dominic Thornely, who failed to impress in the County Championship in 2006, with a meagre average of just 34.5. Last year saw the emergence of Jimmy Adams as a good first class opener and his opening partner, Michael Carberry, recently scored a hundred for England A in Bangladesh. John Crawley was the clubs’ stand-out player in 2006 and continues to be dependable at number three. With Kevin Pietersen a rare sight at the Rose Bowl these days, there is a real opportunity for Chris Benham to cement a place in the side. The youngster improved as 2006 progressed, coming to prominence during the club’s 20Twenty campaign and he was particuarly instrumental in the club’s promotion to Division One of the Pro40 competition.
Nic Pothas is always a man for a crisis and along with Crawley he is a key run-getter in the Hampshire side. He will though be looking to improve his one day form and his keeping consistancy in 2007. Sean Ervine was a huge disappointment in 2006, failing to live up to the huge promise that we had witnessed the previous year. A serious knee reconstruction in the close season did not help him, but his failure to score a century in either form all season was a real let down. Hawks’ fans will be hoping that he can rediscover his best form in the coming year. Dimi Mascarenhas was also somewhat of a disappointment in 2006 with the bat in first class cricket, though he picked up his form in the shorter format of the game. Other players who may get a look in this season include the enterprising young Mitchell Stokes and the very promising England U19 youngster, Kevin Latouf.
Hampshire finished last season with the highest number of bowling bonus points out of the 18 first class county sides. However, they did sometimes struggle to finish sides off and missing James Bruce and particularly Chris Tremlett for large chunks of the season, the seam attack often looked gentle and there was a heavy reliance placed upon the allrounders and spinners. The capture of Stuart Clark is a major coup for the club and prospect of Australia’s two finest bowlers during the Ashes bowling in tandom for the Hawks is a mouthwatering one to say the least. Clark impressed in 2005 during a short stint at Middlesex and the club will be hoping that with both he and Warne available for the whole season, the club will be able to capture the County Championship crown, which it so badly yearns for. When the bounce of Chris Tremlett, movement of James Bruce and wiley canniness of Shaun Udal is added in, the bowling looks well equipped to deal with most challenges in all forms of the game. Mascarenhas and Ervine will also play key roles, especially at the Rose Bowl and there will no doubt be a handful of appearances for local tree surgeon Billy Taylor and the emerging left armer, James Tomlinson.
Probable County Championship Team:
N Pothas (wk)
S Warne (c)
Hampshire have a great shot at winning the County Championship and do have the squad power to challenge on all fronts. The focus is clearly on the longer version of the game though.
So many to choose from! It has to be Stuart Clark though. The bowling star of the Ashes will be relied upon by former team mate Shane Warne to lead this Hawks side to the County Championship title and I can not see any other result.
Chris Benham. He exploded on to the scene with a fine series of displays during the clubs traditionally brief 20Twenty Cup challenge. After that he broke into both the one day and first class sides and looked right at home. A naturally aggressive player, Benham is also capable of playing situations and has a solid technique. He has a superb pair of hands in the field and has already drawn high praise from his club captain after a winning knock against Glamorgan at the end of last season, which secured promotion back to Pro40 League One. He has the potential to go far.
Captain & Coach:
What more is there to say about the legend that is Shane Warne. His contract with Hampshire runs for a further two years and he intends to honour it, which is fantastic news for Hawks fans everywhere and the county game in general. Warne has a superb tactical nous and really lifts the other players’ performances through his mere presence. Now retired from the international game, Warne will be able to focus solely on Hampshire and his main ambition, which is to win the County Championship.
Coach Paul Terry shares a good camaraderie with the lads and he likes his side to go out and play aggressive and enterprising cricket, as displayed during the fabulous run chase at Headingly, when over four hundred runs were chased down on the final day to beat Yorkshire.
An exciting season lays ahead.